is a father-son business based in East Hampton, started by Southampton residents Joe McLaughlin Sr. and his namesake in 2010. The company, which shares a space with on Springs-Fireplace Road, quickly grew from its start in a home office. The company continues to grow and now has multiple trucks on the road providing service on the South Fork.
Please tell us a little about yourselves, since this is a family business.
Joe McLaughlin Sr: I started working in plumbing and heating as an assistant technician when I was 15 and worked with various companies during my career as I became certified and licensed and expanded my knowledge in heating, ventilation and air conditioning. My wife and I live in Southampton, where we raised our three kids. My favorite thing about living on the East End is being able to see someone I know wherever I go; it really reminds me of how tight of a community we have here. As a company, we are always looking for ways to be involved in our community from donating to school calendars to church bulletins and more.
Joe McLaughlin Jr: I can’t even remember how old I was when my father took me out on my first night call; I thought it was the coolest thing in the world to be going to work with Dad. I always had the best science projects! I started working towards my certifications as soon as I was able while not only working as an assistant technician, but also in all sorts of odds and ends jobs. I’m like a jack of all trades now. I am raising my family in Southampton. This year has been especially exciting welcoming our fourth boy into our family.
What made you take the chance and open your own business?
Sr: My grandkids. Seeing so many other types of services, we really wanted to give a good and honest service to help preserve the culture out here on the east end.
Jr: My children. I wanted to start something to better the life of my family and secure my kids’ futures.
What's the one thing you want people to know about your business that they might not realize?
Sr: We really strive to keep the ma-and-pop feeling during a time where so many small businesses are being eaten up. We want our customers to be remembered individually by name and needs rather than just being another account number. We make each customer just as important as any other, making sure that they see the same faces and talk to the same people each time they need us. We jump to give service to our customers with our 24 hour emergency service. We are more than just a company, we are neighbors too.
What is the biggest challenge you face as an East Hampton business owner?
Jr: The biggest challenge is the slowdown in the economy and trying to work with customers’ budgets but still give them the highest quality parts and installations. Even though we operate for both heating and cooling systems, we still see some changes with the seasons. Some months can be busier than others.
What advice to you have for someone starting a business? Or what is the best piece of business advice that you have ever received? J
Jr: Be prepared. Whatever stress that comes to the company is stress that you make, so you have to be ready for everything 10 steps ahead. You need to be ready to spend a lot more time than just 40 hours a week and ready to sacrifice your time even on the weekends. Owning a business is a 24/7 job.
Sr: When starting a business, you have to do it right. Don’t cut corners. You have to be fair and honest, and always keep your head up and be nice no matter what challenges come up.
Do you have any future plans for your business?
Sr: Staying family oriented while expanding the area of our services.
In these uncertain economic times, we are curious to know what business owners' hopes are as far as retirement. Do you have plans? Feel you can't ever retire?
Sr: I love my work. It’s not a matter of funding towards retirement, it's more that I can’t see myself ever not working. So to think about retirement any time in the near future is tough. I may be “senior”, but I’m not stopping any time soon!
Jr: As owners, retirement is not in the foreseen future since the company relies on us and I have so much pride in what I do. As I said earlier, it’s a 24/7, 365 day/year commitment. I would like to see my children keep the company going if they are into it. I found myself answering a whole barrage of questions as the eldest helped me do repairs in my own home, so hopes are good. Just as my father did for me, I’ve already started taking him out on calls and teaching him a little about the trade.
If there is a business owner that you would like to see Patch interview, e-mail Taylor.Vecsey@patch.com or shout out the business name in the comment section below.